IND v AUS 2023: Ashwin impressed with Todd Murphy, Usman Khawaja’s exploits, lauds Smith’s captaincy during Test series

India clinched the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1.

Todd Murphy, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith | GettyTeam India got the better of Australia in the just-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy at home. The Rohit Sharma-led side won the four-match Test series 2-1.

While India won the first two Tests in Nagpur and Delhi, they suffered a defeat in the third game in Indore. The series-decider at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad ended in a draw.

Reflecting on the series, veteran India spinner R Ashwin lauded the visiting team’s performance and was full of praise for the young off-spinner Todd Murphy, opener Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith for his captaincy.

“Todd Murphy had a sensational debut series. You might wonder what is there to talk about Todd Murphy. This is his first tour to India. I remember many spinners’ first tour to India. Nathan Lyon came here first to India in 2013. He went to Sri Lanka before that. Todd Murphy came here 10-50 times better than how Nathan Lyon came here in his first tour to India in 2013,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.

“I am not saying he is a better bowler regarding quality, skill, or performance. I am talking about his capacity and composure to bowl around and over the stumps. In Ahmedabad Test, he bowled most of his overs from over the stumps. Until that, he was bowling around the stumps,” he added.

“Todd Murphy is the current generation spinner that is not bowling the fast back-of-length delivery but also has an odd slower one. So a lot of credit to Todd Murphy. For the first tour as an off-spinner, and playing second fiddle to Nathan Lyon he has definitely caught the imagination. And he is just 20 years old. And showing this kind of composure, it is setting all the right signs for Australia in the future also,” Ashwin further stated.

Todd Murphy finished the four-match series with 14 scalps to his name an impressive average of 25.21, including a seven-wicket haul on debut in Nagpur.

After the second Test in Delhi, Australia’s regular skipper Pat Cummins flew back home to attend his ill mother, who passed away on March 10. In his absence, Steve Smith led Australia in the last two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Smith led the tourists to Indore Test win, which also sealed their place in the World Test Championship final.

Lauding Smith’s leadership skills, Ashwin said: “Steve Smith led them outstandingly well in the Test match. He has amazing creativity he gets the game. We know that he is a great batsman. But to be a great student of the game, you should know all the nuances of the game. He knows when to do what and gets the hang of the game.”

“He led them well in the last two Tests. Be it with field placements, or bowling changes; he was spot on. He never let us take control in Indore,” the legendary off-spinner commented on India’s third Test loss.

Ashwin was highly impressed with Usman Khawaja’s exploits during the Test series. The southpaw returned as the top run-getter, amassing 333 runs at an average of 47.57 with the best score of 180 in the final Test in Ahmedabad.

“Usman Khawaja batted really well. through the series, he found ways to make runs. When he started his career Graeme Swann took his wicket for fun. He didn’t have the greatest times. When he began his career, he came in with a big reputation. But he could not fully showcase his ability and talent when he started. But Usman Khawaja is a great example of hard work never fails,” Ashwin said.

Talking about his technique, Ashwin said, “He plays with his lower and soft hands.”


By Salman Anjum - 16 Mar, 2023

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